I had attended conferences for three years until I finally took the plunge to take courses for Certification in Youth Ministry within the United Methodist Church. At the time, to be honest, I didn’t really see much need for it. I had already had been the youth director in two churches and I didn’t need a certificate to do it. After much prayer and conversations with some friends in the midst of certification, I decided to give it a try and am really happy about this decision.
Being in a certification class has challenged me and opened my eyes to many aspects of what it means to minister to students. Something that bothered me about my delayed decision was with the current program it took five years to complete certification. At this rate I will not complete the process until 2018, with just a certificate! This is how it has been done for years and I figure I would just stop dwelling about my past decisions and look forward to many years of courses – that is, until I heard about the Spark Conference.
With the Spark Conference, I can complete all courses within three years, have more frequent contact with others in the class, and actually have credit hours that matter: my accrued credit hours can go toward a master’s degree through Southwestern College, all while being more affordable in the long run. At the moment I don’t have any plans to pursue a master’s degree, but it is good to know in the future if I do decide to go back to school I’ll have a head start.
I still think other conferences offering certification in youth ministry are still good, and I would still recommend them to others. But as of right now the Spark Conference seems to have the winning edge. As I go into my third course of certification I look forward to the challenges and inspiration that awaits me.